Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A deal is near for Millennium Entertainment to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the Los Angeles Film Festival opening-night pic Bernie. I’m told that it will be the first significant grab for former Film Department co-head Mark Gill since he took the reins of Avi Lerner’s company (UPDATE: reps for the company claim Gill was not involved, though he released Linklater’s Before Sunrise while running Warner Independent, and those reps said the deal was made by  Millennium Entertainment’s Bill Lee and Vincent Scordino). The minimum guarantee will be around $2 million with a P&A commitment of around $1 million and the deal should be done by Monday.

Inspired by a true story, the film stars Jack Black as the title character, an amiable funeral director who kills a rich widow (Shirley MacLaine) and creates a ruse that she’s still alive. Matthew McConaughey also stars in a film that’s directed by Richard Linklater. He directed Black in School of Rock and McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. Pic’s a coproduction between Mandalay Vision and Wind Dancer. Cinetic’s John Sloss and WME Global’s Graham Taylor are making the deal. Another deal is in the offing for Canada, putting the North American rights in the $3 million range. The deal certainly helps the LAFF as a showcase for acquisitions, which always helps a festival seem viable.

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